Hunting with The Four is a completely different experience to hunting with Salvador. With Sal, we communicate with our hands, creep like hunters and stalk our prey. Each of my mates hunts in a different way. I realise pretty quickly that we all will be catching our on kills and not sharing.
Oro, the quiet, calm, patient one, hunts like Sal and me. After finding his prey, he stalks it, waiting patiently for the right moment to attack with precision. When he does attack, it is a quick, clean kill.
Esteban hunts with the skill of a wolf, but the final kill is messy. He gets blood all over his face and his clothes when he attacks the hare.
Lucio is skilled, but not patient. His prey hears him coming at the last minute and he’s lucky that he is fast enough to catch up with the Roe deer.
Mal is like releasing a shark into a pond. He blunders about, making every animal in the forest aware of his presence and catching the odd ones that are too startled to move fast enough.
We discuss our varying techniques on our walk back to the dorm. Quite a few students are out in their home clothes, enjoying their Saturday.
I feel their eyes on us as the five of us walk back inside. I have my four mates around me, penning me in with their square of protection. They glare at everyone who stares for too long.
I remember when I used to think they glared all of the time. It’s nice to know those hard shells are for everyone else’s benefit, not mine.
“Who wants a palate cleanser?” Oro asks over his shoulder as he collects the tray from the fridge.
“I do!” I reply and hop onto one of the kitchen stools.
“Go on, then. I’ll have one,” Mal says and takes a seat next to me.
Esteban sits down, too and we all look at Lucio, who rolls his eyes.
“I’m not allowed one, apparently,” he comments dryly.
“Damn right,” Oro replies. “You were rude about them.”
He places the small bowls of sorbet in front of us.
“This is watermelon mojito sorbet, made by moí,” he tell us proudly.
“This is so good,” I compliment him after I’ve had a mouthful. “Thank you, Oro.”
He smiles at me and kisses my forehead over the counter.
“You’re very welcome, Em.”
“If I tell you it’s good, you’re not gonna kiss my forehead as well, right?” Mal says gruffly.
Lucio stands to one side, watching us eat the sorbet. His arms are folded across his chest, and he’s got a frown on his face.
“Say you’re sorry and you can have some,” Oro tells him tauntingly.
Lucio grinds his teeth together. He unlocks his arms and his hands clench into fists at his sides. He walks over to the counter and reaches for a pot of sorbet. Oro slides it out of his reach.
Lucio inhales deeply through his nose before finally apologising.
“I’m sorry, alright? Give me the damn sorbet.”
Oro chuckles and slides the bowl back towards him. “Enjoy.”
Lucio grabs the bowl from the side and sits down to eat it. He looks funny, hunched over the tiny bowl and holding the small spoon in his huge hand.
We chill for most of the afternoon, spread across the sofas and talking about the most random of things. I get up some personality tests and quizzes on my phone and we learn the craziest things about one another.
I get to hear stories of The Four at school. They tell me how they become close at high school, how they each informally dated individual girls but then decided that sharing was better.
They’re virgins, but they’ve done more than kissing, I know that. I have, too. A lot of vampires experiment in high school.
Mal offers to take me on a walk around the school, there are still some buildings that I’ve never been into. I don’t want to sit watching TV all day, so I happily agree.
We hold hands and walk up and down the empty hallways. The classrooms are locked, but Mal shows me the music department, art department and history department; all buildings I’ve never been to.
We finish up in the music department. There is a grand piano situated in the upstairs foyer. Mal goes over to it and lifts up the cover. He takes a seat and I sit next to him, eager to watch him play.
He places his fingers over the keys and finds the right position. He waits a beat, as though working out the timing in his head, and then starts to play.
Beautiful notes lift up from the piano and reverberate around the room. They glide up to the rafters and back down to where we sit. I’m left breathless by the heart-warming melody he plays.
Mal is always so impulsive, bordering on angry and aggressive with others. He killed like an animal today and yet, the way his fingers are skilfully pressing the keys makes me think that I must have imagined the whole thing. No one this graceful could be such a ruthless killer.
When the piece comes to an end, I have to move my tongue around in my mouth. It has gone dry because I’ve been sitting with my lips parted in awe for the last few minutes.
“Mal…” His name comes out raspy from my lips and I clear my throat. “That was…incredible.”
He smiles and turns to face me, straddling the piano stool.
“My mother forced me to take lessons as a child. I hated them, but I’m glad she did it, now.”
“Will you play for me again, in the future?” I ask him hopefully. “I don’t think I can live without hearing you play.”
He grins at my request. “Of course, angel. I will do anything for you.”
I smile lovingly at him. “Thank you.”
Mal leans in to kiss me and I meet him halfway. His lips are warm and soft. Mellowed by the piano playing, he kisses me more tenderly than usual. I savour this softer side of him.
The kiss turns heated, and we shuffle closer to one another. He pulls me onto his lap, and I reach out to steady myself. My hand catches a couple white piano keys simultaneously, making an awful cacophonous sound.
It doesn’t bother us, though. Mal buries his hand in my hair and holds me in place. He deepens the kiss, pushing his tongue past my lips and into my mouth. My toes curl in my shoes and I want to clench my thighs together, I can’t because they’re currently locked around his waist. Mal pulls back, panting through parted lips.
“We should go back before I finger you on this piano,” he says huskily.
My eyes widen at his crude words, but I manage to nod and slide from his lap. He rearranges his erection in his jeans to make it less conspicuous and then takes my hand.
I’ve barely walked through the door of the dorm before Oro is taking my hand and leading me back out of it. I’m totally up for his suggestion of reading in the library for a couple of hours.
Luckily for students it is open all weekend. The librarian gives us a proud smile when we enter, obviously pleased that students are willingly coming into the library on their weekend time.
After a bit of discussion, we decide to mix things up and choose non-fiction. I scour the shelves until I find an interesting book. Oro already has one on the go and sits in one of the window seats.
I come and sit opposite him. Our legs interlock and we both get lost in our books.
Two hours later, the librarian warns that we only have half an hour before she will close up for the day. We finish our chapters and take our leave.
Oro offers to show me the special collection upstairs. You need a key from the headteacher to unlock it, it’s meant to only be available to staff.
Oro produces his set of keys from his pockets and selects an iron one. He slips it into the lock and the door clicks open.
The room isn’t very big, but every inch of wall space is lined with shelves. Shelves that contain the most beautiful, ostentatious books I have ever seen. If a witch or a wizard were to own a library, you would expect it to look like this.
Some books look as old as time itself. Others look like they might have been made with animal skins. The ones with fur-lined covers look like they might bite you if you try and open them.
Some of them have metal bindings and locks on the front. Their titles are embossed in gold filigree with patterns and swirls grained into the cover.
“This is incredible,” I tell Oro.
“I know,” he replies, sounding just as incredulous as me. “It’s one of my favourite places in the academy. I’m so glad that I was able to get a key to it.”
I step further into the room, my mouth parted in unashamed awe.
“I got my key copied for each of my brothers, too. But I haven’t told the school about that part.”
We walk up and down the shelves. Oro points out interesting volumes to me. We both stop at the shelf where there is a noticeable gap between two thick books.
“That’s weird,” he murmurs.
Oro checks the titles of the two books on either side of the gap.
“What is it?” I ask curiously.
“The book that should be here, it’s all about Lamia blades.”