Plain Jane

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6: Meeting Convel

The chill autumn wind ruffled the man’s wild black hair and pulled at his long, brown leather trench coat. The tall, handsome man didn’t seem to notice the wind, nor anything else for that matter.

Instead, his forest-green eyes were focused on a young woman sitting in a desk by a second-story window in the brick building of St. Defendens High. Her black-crimson hair was pulled back into a messy bun with two pencils sticking out of it like hair chopsticks. She seemed bored and inattentive, her gaze wandering this way and that.

The man closed his eyes, focusing his energy on the young woman. He opened his eyes again, only this time they were different…

They were opalescent white.

***

Jane sat in Government, her last class of the day. She had forgiven Lukan by this time and was rather enjoying the fact that no one, not even the teachers would interfere with her.

Of course, that didn’t really help with how absolutely boring she found Government.

Jane was slouched in her seat, and she soon found that her mind was beginning to stray but did nothing to stop it. With as high as she kept her grades, she could afford to not pay attention in one class.

Janet…

Jane’s eyes widened and she sat bolt upright, looking around the room for the person saying that name – the same name that kept her awake at night. Everyone was either focused on the teacher’s mind-numbing lecture or in most cases, passing notes and texting.

Jane had known that she wouldn’t find anyone talking except the teacher, because she had known who had been calling to her to begin with. The Phantom of Dreams

Jane tried to convince herself that she had simply allowed herself to fall asleep for a moment but she had a hard time buying it.

Janet…

It’s just my subconscious, that’s all, Jane told herself, trying not to panic as she looked around the room to see if anyone else hear the voice too, just in case.

Janet…

Thinking to take her mind off of the voice, Jane looked out the window.

A man was standing on the street below, his face pointed toward the sky – no, not the sky. He was looking through the window… at her.

Jane’s throat tightened painfully and her chest restricted as she saw the man’s eyes more clearly. White. Opalescent white…

The teacher droned on, not knowing that his prize student believed herself to be suffering a mental breakdown.

The man’s vacant eyes caught her own and they stared at each other for what seemed ages, Jane’s panic subsiding into something strange. A feeling of… compassion? She began to feel almost like he wanted comfort from her.

Janet… Please, Janet…

His voice was so pathetic, so pleading and desperate, his eyes so mournful that a single crystalline tear escaped Jane’s left eye, catching Sofiya’s attention.

“Hey!” Sofiya whispered, leaning toward Jane from next to her. “Are you okay?”
Jane’s head turned swiftly toward Sofiya, startled by the sudden voice beside her.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just…”

Jane turned her head back to the window. The man was gone.

Jane searched the sidewalk he’d been standing on from one end of the other with her sharp eyes, but she saw no sign of him, leaving her to yet again wonder if her nightmares were fast becoming daymares.

“Jane?” Sofiya asked, the concern etching her voice painfully obvious.

“It’s just a headache,” Jane replied hollowly.

Sofiya didn’t seem convinced, but she sat back in her seat nonetheless.

“Do you want some ibuprofen?” the lovely Vietnamese girl asked with concern.

“No, I’m okay, but thanks,” Jane replied.

Sofiya frowned but Jane ignored her.

Jane stared out the window for the rest of class, and the moment the bell rang she gathered her things and was out of there like a shot, Sofiya following quickly behind. Jane flew outside into the parking lot and stopped, panting heavily.

Sofiya came to a stop beside her, watching her with anxious eyes.

“Jane, are you sure you’re okay-“

“I’m fine. Just needed a bit of air,” Jane said walking slowly to Lukan’s Porsche and then leaning heavily against it.

Jane perked up for a moment, an idea suddenly occurring to her. Jane quickly unzipped her back pack and started digging roughly through the things inside it. She gave a loud groan, startling Sofiya.

“Oh my word, what’s wrong? Is your head that bad? I can-“

“I left my notebook on my desk in Government, and now I have to go all the way back there to get it,” Jane said irritably.

Sofiya perked up a bit.

“I’ll go get it for you!” she said cheerfully.

Jane looked doubtful.

“Are you sure? I mean, I could-“

“Don’t worry about it. It won’t take me more than a minute!”

And with that, Sofiya was gone, and Jane was left all on her own… exactly the way she had planned it.

Jane looked down into her still open backpack at the notebook she used for Government, and gave a decidedly good impersonation of Lukan’s classic self-satisfied smirk.

Jane zipped up her back pack quickly, remembering what Sofiya had said about only being a minute, and she began her trek back to her house to put on a roast as she always did, before heading over to the hotel for work.

It looked like Jane would actually get a half hour to herself… or so she thought.

***

Sofiya cheerfully skipped into the Government classroom, happy to be able to do something for Jane, since Sofiya couldn’t fix her headache for her.

“Hello, Mr. Truman,” she said, greeting her teacher sitting behind his desk as he graded papers.

“Hello, Ms. Nguyen. How can I help you?” Mr. Truman said warmly.

“Jane left her notebook on her desk. I came to get it for her since she wasn’t feeling too well after class.”

Mr. Truman looked pensive for a moment.

“Well, you’re welcome to look of course, but I’m positive I saw Ms. Parker put her notebook in her backpack,” he said.

“Thank you, Mr. Truman.”

Sofiya’s brows furrowed in confusion as she walked to where Jane had sat by the window. She searched high and low for it before a sudden realization hit her.

Sofiya hurriedly ran from the room, not even saying ‘goodbye.’ Sofiya was going so fast that she had to deliberately slow herself down to keep from Flitting.

She burst through the double doors leading to the parking lot. Sofiya’s eyes darted everywhere, her ears unable to pick up the rhythm of Jane’s heartbeat.

Panicking, Sofiya ran toward Lilith’s office, hoping to find Lukan still there.

***

Jane walked home at a leisurely pace. It would be a long time before she got a chance to be alone again, and she already knew that she was going to get hell for pulling this stunt as it was, so she might as well enjoy it.

Jane couldn’t stop thinking about the man from her nightmares and how he now seemed to be invading her waking life as well. She had been having dreams of his voice for as long as she could remember but it had only been once she moved to Lysander that a face came with the voice.

Jane wished that she could believe herself to be insane or over-stressed as then she could just get the help she needed, but she knew that she wasn’t. After everything that had happened over the last few days, Jane had learned that just because she couldn’t explain something didn’t mean that it wasn’t real. She knew she would have to tell Lilith and the others, but she shrunk from the very thought of it. Would they believe her to be insane or just over-stressed, as Jane wished to be? Would they laugh at her? Heaven forbid, would they pity her?

The leaves in the trees around Jane were rustled by the wind but that didn’t account for the distinct sound of a twig snapping to Jane’s left.

Jane stopped short, panic rising in her gut when she remembered all the danger Lilith said she was in. When Jane had tricked Sofiya, she hadn’t been thinking about the danger, only the chance to be able to think without the bother of constant chatter or endless arguments.

Jane heard the sound again, this time to her right. Jane started walking again, only this time she was nearly running. As Jane heard the rustling follow her on both sides of the trees, her pace quickened but so did the rustling.

A cry of primal hunger rang out through the trees as a black-winged creature leapt at Jane, its claws and fangs sparkling like diamonds in the cool November sunlight. Jane turned just in time to see the creature be intercepted by a black wolf coming out of the forest and tackling the creature to the ground, the wolf’s sharp jaws ripping its heart out.

A shout of feral rage echoed in the forest and another vampire began Flitting toward Jane from the other side. The wolf, seeing this, jumped in front of Jane, effectively blocking the vampire’s path.

The wolf’s body was low to the ground, his blood-covered teeth bared as he snarled violently at the crimson-eyed creature. The vampire’s wings went back threateningly, looking as though he was about to strike, but the wolf’s ears went back as well and its eyes narrowed dangerously. The vampire glanced at the pile of ash that had been its companion and seemed to rethink its diet plan. It seemed that the creature didn’t think that a fifteen year old girl was worth getting his heart torn out by a very pissed-off wolf as it growled in frustration at its meal being ruined and Flitted off into the forest without a backward glance.

The wolf remained in his defensive position for a few moments, apparently listening to see if the vampire was going to do something foolish.

Jane stood behind the wolf, nearly unable to breathe from the shock.

What the hell just happened?

The wolf turned, satisfied that the danger had passed, his coat shining like black onyx.

Jane wasn’t surprised when she saw that the wolf’s eyes were completely opalescent white.

***

Lukan had been called to Lilith’s office and they’d been discussing whether or not it was completely necessary that Lukan take Jane out on actual ‘dates.’ Lukan thought the idea was ridiculous and uncomfortable, and that if anything it would only put more distance between himself and Jane, something he was trying really hard to avoid, hence the earlier display during Biology Lab.

Lilith, on the other hand, seemed adamant.

“Lukan, if you do not take Jane out on at least one date, people are going to start wondering if this whole relationship is even real – her parents especially. You need to make a little effort. Besides, this will give you a perfect opportunity to see where that spark leads to in a romantic setting,” Lilith said, doing her absolute best to sound convincing as she leaned against her cherry wood desk.

At this point though, Lukan was ready to give in if for no other reason than shutting her up. It had been over an hour since he’d hesitantly left Jane to Sofiya’s care and he was anxious to be getting back. He was getting that niggling feeling that something was wrong.

“You win, Lilith! I’ll go on a date with Jane, but you have to be the one to convince her it’s a necessary evil!” he cried irritably. “I’m getting a little tired of being put in the middle of all this.”

Lukan rolled his eyes at Lilith’s pathetic attempt at hiding a happy smirk.

“Splendid! I will make reservations at La Vienne Rose for tomorrow night at eight o’clock,” Lilith said jubilantly.

Lukan wasn’t listening though. Instead he was focusing on the heavy feeling in his gut.

Jane… he thought.

“I have to go,” Lukan said, rising quickly from the chair he’d been sitting in, which suddenly seemed uncomfortable. “Something’s wrong, I can feel it-“

Both Lilith’s and Lukan’s attention shifted when Sofiya burst through the door.

“She’s gone!” Sofiya cried. “Jane’s gone. She told me she left her notebook in class, but when I went to get it for her it wasn’t there, and now she’s gone!

“What the hell were you thinking?” Lukan shouted, his panic turning to anger. “I knew I should never have left her with you!”

Lukan ran out the door, Lilith and Sofiya close behind.

Lukan pushed his way past the students and teachers littering the halls, too concerned about Jane to worry about manners.

If anything happens to her I’ll never forgive myself…

***

Jane’s heart was pounding in her chest as the pieces began to fit together. Werewolf, Jane thought. But why have I been dreaming about him since before I can remember?

Though it made Jane take a few steps back in fear, she wasn’t surprised when the wolf stood on its hind legs and morphed gracefully into the man from her hellish nightmares.

His eyes faded and for the first time, Jane saw that his eyes were naturally forest green.

He looked at Jane with an emotion that she couldn’t identify. He was no longer covered in the vampire’s blood and he wore a long brown trench coat, a black long-sleeved turtleneck, and a pair of dark blue-jeans. His hair was as black and shining as his fur coat had been. He couldn’t have been more than thirty years old, at the very most.

Jane had the strangest feeling that she held some connection to him – though she couldn’t think what it might be. There was something oddly familiar about the way he looked, and it had nothing to do with her nightmares. Jane knew what he was – now it was only a matter of who he was and what he wanted from her.

“Hullo, Janet,” the man said softly, a soft Irish brogue highlighting his masculine voice.

Those two words sent a wave of familiarity and comfort to her heart. She still felt the same sense of panic and danger as she did in her dreams, but there was also a feeling of calm.

“You’re one of them – a lycanthrope,” Jane said accusingly.

It wasn’t a question. The man seemed to know that but answered anyway.

“Aye, lass. That I am.”

“Who are you? What do you want from me? And why are you calling me ’Janet?’”

The man took a deep breath, as though bracing himself for a hit.

“Me name is Convel O’Donnelly and I’m yer father.”

Jane’s heart seemed to stop beating for a long moment. She could feel the bile rise in her throat, her body revolting against the idea when her mouth and mind could not function.

It’s not true… It can’t be true! she thought wildly.

“I want ye to come home with me, Janet… where ye belong,” Convel continued, almost tenderly.

If anyone had told a stranger that this man had ripped someone’s heart out not five minutes ago they would have laughed in their face.

“That’s a lie!” Jane said with conviction. “I’m not your daughter! I’m not!

Convel looked mournfully at her.

“Ye must believe what I say as true. Why else would I keep in contact with ye all these years if not what I said be true? I love ye, Janet.”

Convel held his arms out to take her into a hug but Jane backed away, panicked. She felt behind her for a weapon of some kind and when she found none, she felt above her head. Her fingers grazed something, only barely registering in the back of her mind that what she felt were leaves, before she wrapped her fingers around it and pulled at it with all her might.

The thick branch took with it the entire heavy wooden limb, and it slipped from Jane’s fingers, flying in the direction of her would-be father. He only just managed to duck it before it slammed into a tree behind him, knocking it down flat.

Jane looked between her hands and the felled tree and torn limb in shock and confusion.

How…?

“Yer powers are beginnin’ to manifest, lass,” Convel said, straightening his coat, his wild hair falling into his now opalescent white eyes which were quickly fading back to dark green.

“Soon ye’ll be more powerful than us all. If ye don’t believe me, then ask yer mother,” Convel said, obviously a little hurt that Jane needed so much convincing. “If she’ll tell ye the truth, that is.”

Jane looked at him in confusion.

“My mother doesn’t know anything about this – she doesn’t even know ’ye’ people exist.”

“If yer talkin’ about the pathetic excuse for a human being that raised ye – if one could even call it that – then I have to tell ye, Janet, she isn’t yer mother.”

Jane’s heart sunk into her gut.

Some part of her had always felt that the Parkers, with the exception of Todd, weren’t her real family, yet she just couldn’t believe that the life she’d known for fifteen years was nothing but a sham, a lie, a farce.

“Alright,” Jane said slowly, taking a cautious breath as she decided to humor him. “Then who is my mother?”

Convel stared straight at her as he spoke.

“Lilith Kingsley O’Donnelly… me wife.”

Jane’s world seemed to implode in on itself. Everything Jane thought she knew had started falling apart since she had met Lilith and now Lilith was her mother?

And yet, it explained so much: the overly-affectionate behavior, the way Mr. and Mrs. Parker always did as she asked, the little touches, looks, smiles, the way she did her best to integrate Jane into the family so quickly, the hair color matching, the way she was always trying to set Jane up with Lukan… All of it came together in one, big mess of truth.

Whoever said that ‘the truth will set you free,’ must never have known about vampires, lycanthropes and merpeople, Jane thought bitterly.

Jane looked at Convel well for the first time. His eyes were almond-shaped much like her own, and Jane could swear that she had his chin.

As Jane continued to take in the fine details of his handsome face, she began to see more and more similarities between them. Her hair was almost the same color as his, but he didn’t have the same crimson highlights that she did. The crimson was, now very obviously, one of Lilith’s gifts.

There was no doubt. The man before Jane was her father.

Her shoulders slumped in defeat.

“It’s true,” she whispered, tears slipping down her face, though she wasn’t quite sure what particular thing she was crying about. “It’s really true.”

Convel reached out his hand, stroking her face and comforting her, and not knowing what she was doing Jane closed her eyes, luxuriating in the feel of a father’s love for the first time.

And suddenly a wave of relief flooded Jane’s body. This isn’t a bad thing, she realized.

She had a father who obviously loved her, and though she would have one hell of a bone to pick with Lilith and a whole lot of questions to ask, Jane knew that Lilith loved her as well. Convel was about to wrap his arms around his long lost daughter when the sound of an engine speeding their way caught their attention. Jane immediately recognized it as Lukan’s Porsche. She now realized that being able to distinguish the sound of one engine from another was one more confirmation that Convel was telling the truth.

Convel growled in frustration, and for a moment he was the dangerous nightmare man again, but as quickly as his hostility came, it went, and he was her father once more. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes, sadness emanating from every pore.

“Jane, ye have to listen to me very carefully. They’re goin’ to tell ye things about me. Some will be true, some won’t, but no matter what ye choose to believe, know that I love ye. Always. Forever. Nothin’ that is done or said between us, or yer mother and I will ever change that. Do ye understand?”

Jane felt like she was losing everything at once. She had known him all her life in a way. He’d been her one constant, even when she was afraid of him and the strange dreams he had featured in. At the same time though, Jane felt as though she had just found him, and there was no way of knowing when they’d see each other again… if ever.

“Janet?” Convel prodded gently, lifting a hand to tenderly wipe away the tears now falling from her eyes.

“I understand,” she forced herself to say.

“If ever ye need anything, I don’t care how small, come and find me. Ye already know how.” He kissed her forehead gently, pushing something into her hand. “Goodbye.”

Convel turned and ran into the woods, pausing to look behind at Jane and smile at her before turning into his wolf form once more and gracefully darting between the thick trees.

Jane stood there in awe for a moment, listening to the sounds of her father running and the car engine fast approaching. Jane looked at what he’d pushed into her hand. A small pendant of a silver wolf with onyx wings expanded in suspended flight laid there, the delicate, tightly-woven silver chain dangling from her hand. Jane smiled when she saw the wolf’s opalescent eyes.

He thought of everything

Jane unclasped it and quickly put it around her neck, gently hiding it inside her shirt before Lukan’s Porsche came around the corner and to a skidding stop in front of her.

Fortunately, Lukan’s reaction time hadn’t been affected by his worry over Jane, or he would’ve run her down. Lukan got out of the car, nearly ripping the car door off in his anger, and stalked toward Jane.

The others followed more slowly, wisely not wanting to get in between the two.

The look of parental relief in Lilith’s eyes told Jane what she had believed based on Convel’s word alone. Their eyes met, Jane’s dark and cold, Lilith’s desperate.

***

Lukan couldn’t smell, see, or hear anything other than Jane at the moment. He was torn between achingly sweet relief and fury beyond what he’d ever felt before. After how worried he had been just seeing her stand there so calmly, so safe made him weak in the knees and burn with rage at the same time.

He decided to go with the rage.

“WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?” he screamed at the top of his lungs. “YOU COULD”VE BEEN KILLED!

“Hello, Lukan,” Jane said, walking toward him, not even glancing at him as she walked by. Lukan blanched at Jane in shock. She had barely even acknowledged him.

Sofiya was the closest behind Lukan, and not the least relieved by any means.

“Jane?” Sofiya said cautiously.

Jane nodded her head in Sofiya’s direction, giving her less of a response than she’d given Lukan.

Jane had her eye on one thing and one thing only: Lilith.

***

Jane walked toward Lilith. She came to a stop a few feet before Lilith.

“Jane? Are you alright?” Lilith asked, trying to distract Jane.

It was obvious to anyone who knew the truth about Jane’s past that Lilith knew she’d spoken with Convel.

Lilith knew she was in for it.

Jane laughed bitterly.

“Oh, I’m just peachy,” Jane said, her voice so upbeat and acidic at the same time that most everyone flinched. “You’ll never guess who I met today, Lilith.”

“Jane, I can-“

“What? Explain? Alright, Lilith. Go ahead and explain to me why you lied to me when you knew the truth about who I really was. Explain to me why you didn’t tell me that you’re my mother!

Jane heard the gasps behind her and she could sense multiple pairs of eyes darting between Lilith and herself, but she couldn’t have cared less at the moment. She could also sense the others Scenting Convel’s former presence, the scent of him strong as he hadn’t bothered to disguise it.

The surrounding area seemed to go dead silent as they recognized the familiar scent in the air.

Lukan seemed paralyzed for a moment, but pulled himself together enough to speak.

Look, Jane, whatever Convel told you is a lie. He’s just trying to get back at Lilith for-“

“For what, Lukan?” Jane asked, turning on him with barely leashed rage. “For dumping his only daughter with the conformity-obsessed, borderline-abusive, cold, unfeeling humans that I’ve had to live with for the past fifteen years of Hell!? You see that tree over there, Lukan? I did that. With my bare hands. I heard your car engine from over a mile away. I’ve had dreams of this guy ever since I can remember. Give me one good reason for all that except that he’s telling the truth.”

Lukan just stared at her for a moment, seeming to try and gather his thoughts.

“Jane, I know how convincing Convel can be from personal experience, but you don’t know a lot about the way this thing works. ‘Vampires’ aren’t born. It’s impossible for us to have children. Whatever he told you is a lie.”

Jane looked at him for a moment as well. She nodded slowly before reaching up and pulling the pencils holding up her hair out, letting her long hair slowly fall past her shoulders to her lower back. The sun caught the crimson highlights just right, allowing the similarity between Lilith and herself become more pronounced. Everyone gasped when they saw that Jane did indeed hold an uncanny resemblance to both Lilith and Convel. It was so striking that they couldn’t believe no one had noticed it before. Her mannerisms even had a similarity to Convel’s in that she was easily and well liked by nearly all.

“You weren’t supposed to find out this way…” Lilith said quietly.

Jane whirled on her.

“Find out what way, mother? By my father – who seems to be the only one capable of telling the truth around here…” Jane said accusingly, looking around her at the guilty faces of her friends. “… introducing himself and telling me that everything I believed for the past fifteen years is a lie?

Jane put a hand over her mouth and her eyes went wide in realization.

“You planned this!” Jane accused darkly. “You planned this whole thing! You bought out my dad’s business from under him and then got him the job he has now! You wanted all this to happen!”

Lilith gave no answer. Her silence was answer enough.

“Lilith?” Lukan was the only one of the coven that dared speak. All of the others were too afraid of what their leader would say – or not say.

Lilith hung her head in what could’ve been shame or sadness, though no one could tell.

“Oh my God… It is true!” Lukan said.

Their voices had taken on an almost muffled quality to Jane, the air seeming thicker and heavier.

“I can explain…” Lilith said, her voice so quiet that had they not all been vampires, they would not have been able to hear her, which was why the others were surprised when it was Jane who answered her.

“Well, someone had better, and fast!”

The sound of a car coming their way drew everyone’s attention.

“Perhaps it would be better if this conversation took place back at The Haven,” Lilith said, always the sensible one, even when she might as well have been on trial as she was then.

Jane nodded swiftly in the direction of her newfound mother before walking around to the passenger side of the car, very deliberately taking the passenger seat where Lilith had been seated. As far as Jane was concerned, Lilith could sit in the back with the people she had lied to and be as uncomfortable as Jane was feeling at the moment.

Everyone else quickly piled in and Lukan started the car.

The entire eight minute car ride was spent in tense silence.

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