Wednesday morning calls for philosophy and mythology as my first lesson. Like last time, Malvolio rocks in five minutes late. Everyone is in the middle of completing a worksheet, it’s silent. His entrance makes everyone in the room look up at him.
That would make me extremely self-conscious, having everyone looking at me. But Malvolio doesn’t seem bothered by it. I’m sure he’s used to it, actually.
He drops his stuff down and sits next to me again. I try to ignore his presence as much as possible. His scent is very distracting, though. I subtly look at his book as he writes. He only makes notes on certain things, and I get the impression that he’s only doing it for appearances. He answers all of the questions correctly and seems to know the topic already.
His writing is not how I imagined it would be. With his short temper and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, I would have thought his penmanship would be a lazy scrawl. But it’s not, it’s beautiful calligraphy.
After philosophy, it’s business studies. I arrive early to the class and take my usual seat. Mr Andrews welcomes everyone, and we all get our things out.
I’m alone at the desk, there’s a spare seat next to me. Mr Andrews mentioned last time that it belongs to someone called Lucio. Apparently, he’s not coming in again today.
I’m proved wrong when the door opens right in the middle of the lesson. I don’t know how the teachers aren’t more annoyed by The Four completely ignoring the bell.
“Lucio, thank you for joining us,” Mr Andrews greets sarcastically.
I glance up to see what Lucio looks like. The first thing I notice is his blood-red eyes. I know those eyes. I saw them in the library yesterday.
His red eyes are lined with extraordinarily long eyelashes. His hair is silver and shiny. If moonbeams were a hair colour, I think this would be it. He has the face of a model. His cheekbones are high, his jaw square and his lips plump. Despite his serious expression, he looks very handsome.
His eyes land on me and stay there. I can’t make myself look away from him. We maintain eye contact as he comes over to the desk and takes a seat.
I can’t believe this. I’m meeting the last member of The Four.
They’re all as handsome and entrancing as each other. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about them, it’s like I’m drawn to them. He smells like bergamot and vetiver. It’s an expensive-smelling, heady combination. I breathe in deeply just to get more of it.
Like Malvolio, Lucio doesn’t say anything to me. Esteban is the only one of them that I have any kind of interaction with.
When the bell rings, I get up and leave the class, leaving Lucio behind. I’m the first to arrive at the picnic bench on the quad. A few minutes later, the girls start joining me.
“You’re so lucky that you have a free last thing,” Esme tells me. “If you want, you’re allowed to go hunting in the forest.”
My eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah. They prefer you to take someone with you, but you’re allowed to hunt any of the animals in there. Just stay within the boundaries of the school grounds.”
Maths is my next lesson after break. I picked the four subjects that would be the most use to me for a job in the vampire world. Employers are looking for intelligent, well-rounded candidates.
Maths and business studies gives me a numbers and business mindset, alchemy allows me to be an asset for supernatural needs and still have chemistry knowledge. Philosophy and mythology gives me a background education on the history of our kind and the folklore surrounding it. It is probably the least important subject, but I wanted to take it.
I share my maths class with Oro. He looks at me a little and, sometimes, our eyes meet. It’s only for the briefest of moments, but I feel like my skin warms every time it happens.
I’m glad when the bell goes. I’m hungry and wanting lunch. The girls ask about my tattoo whilst we eat.
“I literally only got it two days ago, guys,” I respond. “It won’t change until next week sometime.”
We talk throughout lunch, discussing subjects, teachers and other students in our year. A hush falls over us when Salvador comes to stand next to our table. He meets my gaze and smirks.
“Sorry to cut in, ladies. Emmie, we have alchemy next. Want to walk together?”
I can see the shock on the girls’ faces in my peripherals. I grab my water bottle and push it into my bag. “Sure,” I answer him. I get to my feet and push my chair in. “I’ll see you after school, guys.”
“See you,” Honey mumbles, her eyes wide in surprise.
After taking my tray over to the cleaning station, I meet up with Salvador. Students stare at us as we walk down the hallway together. The bell rings and the cafeteria starts emptying behind us.
“Is this what it’s always like for you?” I ask him. “The constant staring?”
He nods, looking bored. “Yep.”
“Just like your mama.”
We’re the first ones to the alchemy class. We take our seats at our desk. A few minutes later, the rest of the class starts trickling in, including Esteban. I keep my eyes on Sal, not wanting to get sucked into his green orbs.
“What do you have last thing?” Sal asks me.
“I have a free. I think I’m going to go hunting.”
His coal-black eyes light up as much as they can. “I have a free, too. Can I join you?”
Esme said that the school prefers you hunting with someone else…
“Great. We’ll go after this lesson.”
I find Esteban glaring intently at us, no doubt listening to our conversation. Vampires have incredible hearing. We have to make the effort to tune out other people’s conversations. It appears Esteban has not paid us that courtesy.
The lesson passes quickly. When it ends, Sal and I walk back to the dorms together. We pause at the intersection where girls go left, and boys go right.
I don’t know which way people go if they don't identify as male or female, or something in between. They probably get to choose which dorm they would feel more comfortable in.
“I’ll meet you back here in five minutes, yeah?” Sal suggests.
I return to my room and drop my bag off. It only takes me a couple of minutes to change out of my uniform and into some workout clothes. We’re going to be chasing prey through the forest, I want to be in something I’m comfortable running in.
I tie my shoulder-length hair up as I’m walking back to the intersection. Sal is already there and leaning casually against the wall. He leads me downstairs and out the front door. We cross the lawn and approach the forest. We have to stop at a little building and sign our names to say that we are entering the forest.
We have to sign out when we leave, just so that the school knows who is still in the forest at the end of the day.
It’s an evergreen and deciduous forest. This time of year, all of the trees have green leaves in various shades on them. It’s an explosion of green beauty. It smells earthy and damp and fresh and everything you would want a forest to smell like. I take a deep breath, inhaling the goodness.
“You ready to do this, St. Cloud?” Sal asks with a lop-sided grin.
“Then, let’s hunt.”
Salvador and I slink through the trees, making no noise as we tread lightly on the leaf litter. There are a lot of animals to choose from, but we ignore the smaller mammals like mice and rabbits.
We’re aiming for a bigger prize.
We find our target in the form of a Fallow deer, grazing in a clearing. Salvador uses his hands to gesture around the deer, telling me that he is going to come from behind while I take the front.
I nod in understanding and lower myself into a crouch. Sal moves noiselessly around the clearing until he is directly opposite me. The deer is grazing but constantly looking around, forever conscious that it is prey, not predator in this world.
I move carefully forward, keeping low so that it won’t see me. Once in position, I find Sal’s eyes. I nod once and we both wait for a count of three.
After exactly three seconds, I leap up from the crouch. I use my leg muscles to propel myself into the air. Lunging forwards, I fly through the air and land in front of the deer, just as Sal lands on its back.
Panic comes over its features and it tries to buck out of Sal’s grip. I wrap my arms around its throat and yank hard. The loud snapping sound echoes around the clearing. The animal goes limp under us.
Without hesitating, we both bite down on the deer. I go for the jugular; Sal goes for its hind. Together, we drain it dry.
Filled with warm, sloshy blood, we make our way back to the little building, discussing our kill.
Sal stops me halfway back. He puts out his hand to halt our walking. I look around nervously, wondering what has spooked him.
“We’re not alone,” he murmurs.