My first lesson is business studies. Honey walks me to the right class. I grip the strap of my backpack tightly and hover at the door. Most of the students are already in the classroom. There are a couple of spare seats dotted around. I don’t know if I’m allowed to pick one of them myself.
The teacher looks normal. He’s middle-aged and sitting behind the desk, engrossed in some task on his computer. I walk up to his desk and stop next to him. Noticing my presence, he looks up from the screen and smiles.
“You must be the new student, Miss St. Cloud,” he says and smiles. “I’m Mr Andrews.”
“Yes, I am. Nice to meet you, Mr Andrews.”
“Why don’t you take a seat over there on the right? I don’t think Lucio is in today, so you can have the desk to yourself.”
I’m kind of relieved to be sitting by myself. That means no one is going to be sitting right next to me, staring and asking questions.
I’m not usually a shy person. My friends back at secondary school would have been howling if they saw how nervous I am. But having the last year off has knocked my confidence and arriving at a huge new school is intimidating for anyone. Hopefully, as I settle in, I can return to my old self.
I get out my notebook and some pens, ready to learn.
The lesson goes by quickly. I focus on the work and get everything done, which allows me to ignore the stares. I hang behind as the students leave the class and ask Mr Andrews for directions to my next class.
I find maths following his instructions. The room is already full of students, who stare at me unashamedly. I shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other.
The teacher gives me a seat right at the back, next to a bored-looking girl with light brown hair. She looks me up and down, gives me a small smile and then looks away.
I can feel everyone’s eyes on me as I sit down and get my things out of my bag. I really don’t understand why a new girl has to be such a big deal. I know their curiousity is probably piqued by me not being here last year.
Too bad that’s not something I like to talk about.
After getting out my things, I write the date and title just like everyone else. The lesson starts. The tension leaves my shoulders as people stop staring and turn around to face the front of the classroom.
All except for one person. A guy on the row in front of me. He’s sitting diagonally to my left and is looking at me over his shoulder.
I’ll be honest, he would have caught my attention even without the staring. He has golden blonde hair that looks sun kissed. His eyes are the exact same colour, only shinier. They look like two huge orbs of glittering, liquid gold. They’re crazy beautiful. I find myself being pulled into them.
I snap out of my trance when the teacher asks a question to the class. The student finally looks forward and stops staring at me. Now that I’m not being pulled into his eyes, I can admire his face.
He has a Nubian nose, a square jaw accentuated by him clenching it, and heavily tanned skin. He looks like a surfer boy without the fuck-boy attitude.
Basically, he’s gorgeous.
The tables have turned between us. Without realising it, I have become the one who is staring while he copies down notes from the board.
His body is large but graceful. His tanned hand moves quickly over the pages of his book as he writes. Despite wearing the school blazer, I can tell he has a muscular physique. I can see the muscles in his arms pulling the sleeves tight.
He runs his hand through his golden strands. He suddenly looks over at me, catching me staring. I quickly look down at my book, blushing like mad.
I refuse to let myself look at him for the rest of the lesson. It’s a relief when the bell rings. I grab my backpack, swing it over my shoulder and walk out of the room with the rest of the students.
It’s break time and I need to meet the girls on the quad. Most of the students are going that way. I follow the signs and the crowd.
The quad is as it sounds; a square area penned in by four buildings. There are benches, trees and a fountain in the centre. I spot the three girls on a picnic table in the far-right corner. They wave me over.
“How were your first lessons?” Honey asks when I sit down next to Irene.
“Not too bad, actually. You girls had a good morning?” I ask them.
They tell me about their lessons. I pull my bottle of water out of my bag and take a few sips.
“Emmie has her prophecy flame at 11,” Honey tells the others excitedly. “What colour do you think you’ll get?”
I shrug. “What did you guys get? If you don’t mind me asking.”
Prophecies are very personal. They’re insights to your future. Some vampires don’t like talking about them, but they’re usually ones who received the black flame.
Irene, Honey and Esme pull up their sleeves. Irene has a green tattoo and explains that she has a connection with fish.
“I know, it’s hilarious. I can actually communicate with my pet goldfish. He’s called OJ and lives in my bedroom.”
Esme has a blue flame and can control the wind to a limited extent.
“I struggle to call on it if it is a still day, but if it’s really windy, I can make the wind go around me, rather than blasting me in the face.”
I feel like that’s more useful than it sounds.
I look over at Honey’s red tattoo and she grins. She got the love flame. She has a destined mate.
“I have two words for you, Emmie,” she says happily. “Lawrence Rodgers.”
My mouth drops open.
“Your high school boyfriend?” I ask her in shock.
She nods. “Yep.”
Lawrence was in the year above when we went to school together. He and Honey dated for three years. They only broke up because he went to the academy.
“When I arrived, he had already received the red flame and was waiting to find his mate. I got my flame, waited a week and my tattoo turned red. As soon as it changed colour, I went and got my prophecy, which showed me that my mate was at the school.”
“How did you know it was him?” I ask, completely hooked in her story.
“Our eyes met and everything just sort of clicked. It can only happen after you’ve both received your tattoo colours. Anyway, we got a year together and now, he’s obviously left the academy. I see him at weekends mostly.”
“I wonder if your flame is going to be red, too!” Honey says excitedly.
I really hope it is.
I have this horrible, sick feeling that it might be black. My palms are sweaty just thinking about it.
The bell goes inside the building, signalling the end of break. All of the students go back inside. I follow the map and make my way to the alchemy building.
I find room 72 just as the bell chimes in the tower, telling me that it’s eleven o’clock exactly.
I knock on the door. After a few seconds, it opens, and a kind-looking woman is standing in the doorway. She has tortoise-shell glasses, short, salt-and-pepper hair and big brown eyes.
“You must be Emery,” she says. “Come on in, I’m Madame Dechaume.”
I follow her into a little room at the back of the classroom. The flame is already set up and burning, looking similar to the Goblet of Fire in its stone urn.
“Please remove your blazer and pull up your sleeve,” she asks.
I slide off my blazer and hang it over one of the chairs. I unbutton the cuff on my sleeve and roll it to my elbow.
“This won’t hurt, Emery. Simply hold your wrist above the flame and wait. I’ll tell you when you can pull your arm back.”
My heart is thumping wildly in my chest as I lean forwards and bring my arm over the flame.
She’s right about it not hurting. The heat from the flame is minimal because it isn’t real fire. The flames lick up against my forearm. My eyes widen as a pink shape starts to appear on my wrist, stretching almost half-way to my elbow. It takes the shape that everyone’s does, an ancient symbol for vampire.
Once the pink tattoo has fully formed on my wrist, my eyes dart to the flame, desperate to see what colour it will turn.