Is the secret out?
Julie felt her blood drain from her face, turning her pale and almost like a ghost. She was sure her soul was soon going to leave her body. She gritted her teeth, hoping the other girls of the Dormitorium didn’t receive the same page as hers.
“Expulsion?” asked one of the girls who was in the corridor.
Another girl who was a freshman said, “I thought breaking rules only sent you to detention.”
“Maybe it was one of the golden rules of Veteris. Rule number twenty-eight says students are not supposed to try pranking the teachers and not get into their rooms,” said another girl.
“Who do you think broke the rule?” whispers started to fill in, and by then, even Melanie had stepped out of her dorm with the printed page in her hand. She looked at Julie, who looked as if she wanted to stab someone right now.
Melanie slowly walked to where Julie stood and asked, “Did someone find out about you sending the letter?”
“I know who it is,” replied Julie, a sigh escaping her lips. “I think I should start packing my bags,” she said in a dull tone.
“Maybe it is just a prank to scare you, who is it?” Melanie whispered so that the other girls wouldn’t find out.
“Someone who wants to make sure I know the difference between a bully and the one being bullied,” muttered Julie under her breath.
How could her letter-napper threaten her like this?! When he had written about ‘handle things’, this was the last thing that had crossed her mind. This was a deadly prank!
Julie scrunched her nose, pushing her glasses, and she said, “It must have been a girl who pushed these pages into our rooms. Who do you think it is?” She looked at the girls who were discussing who the girl was, who would be expelled.
“Who?” asked one of the girls who stood not too far away from them. “It must be one of the freshmen who failed to memorize and follow basic rules. Must be a fucking idiot to have broken a crucial rule,” said the girl in a careless attitude.
Julie and Melanie nodded their heads before Julie asked the girl, “Do you think it is just to create some drama?”
“Printing so many sheets and distributing it to everyone? I would say the girl must have done something and someone has found out about the rule breaking,” replied the girl. She stepped inside her room and closed the door.
“That’s right!” whispered Julie. “The printing machine is in the teachers staffroom and the main office, isn’t it? Maybe Mrs. Hill knows who took so many copies!”
“You are right,” replied Melanie in agreement, wanting to help Julie to find out who was trying to out her friend. “Let me get my dorm’s key,” she informed her.
Julie locked her dorm, leaving the letter as it was on the bed along with the printed page. As they left the Dormitorium, she heard murmurs about the recent stir of conversation in the corridors. Heading towards the main building, they stepped into the office, and she caught sight of Mrs. Hill reading something.
“Mrs. Hill,” Julie addressed the woman who was in charge of the office room, and the woman looked up at her with a not so happy look on her face. “I am sorry for disturbing your reading time, but there is something that I wanted to ask you about.”
Mrs. Hill frowned, “Dorm again?”
“No no! It is about the printing machine in here,” said Julie, her eyes shifting from the woman to look at the printer that was placed next to the computer.
“What about it?” asked the woman.
“Did anyone come here today to print many pages? A student I mean,” Julie looked at the woman, waiting for the answer she was looking for.
“There are many students who come here to get their files printed,” answered Mrs. Hill, “But we have a limit. Students are not allowed to print more than fifteen pages in a day.”
Melanie whispered to Julie, “Maybe the person got them printed every day so that there were enough of them before sending it to us.”
“What are you looking for?” asked Mrs. Hill, giving a suspicious look at both the girls. Julie was about to question more when Mr. Borrell appeared in the room.
“Did you complete the entry in the register that was sent here earlier?” questioned Mr. Borrell to the woman behind the counter.
“Yes, Mr. Borrell. Let me hand you back the register,” she said, turning her back to open the drawer.
Julie felt the teacher’s gaze on her as if he was wondering what she was doing here, and Melanie tried to stand behind her to cover herself. “Thank you,” she muttered to the woman and offered a slight bow to Mr. Borrell before both the girls left the main office room.
Away from the main building and not too far away from the girls’ Dormitorium, Roman lit his cigarette with the silver lighter, letting the tip of it burn. He was sitting on one of the benches, flicking the lighter to close and put it in his pocket. He took a long puff before blowing the smoke into the air through his mouth.
He watched one of the girls from the all human girls’ Dormitorium walk to where he was sitting. Once she came to stand in front of him, she informed him, “I did what you asked me to do. Nobody suspected it.”
“Good,” replied Roman, the corner of his lips already pulling up, and he called the girl to come near. When she leaned towards him with a blush on her face, the pupil of his eyes widened, and he compelled her, “Forget we had any conversation about this or you came to meet me now. You can leave,” he dismissed her.
He saw Julie walking with her friend next to her. It seemed like she had gone to the main office to check with Mrs. Hill. Smart, but she wouldn’t find anything in there.
Roman usually didn’t bully someone without any reason, but if he did, he was always on the top of the categories that Veteris students had drawn out. The wickedness that awakened once in a while. Of course, he didn’t have any plan to expel the girl. After a long time, his interest had caught something in this mundane life of the vampires lived in.
“The last time I saw that expression on you, the person had a miserable time in here,” came the voice of Simon behind him.
Simon walked to where Roman was sitting, and he sat next to him. Roman let his head fall back and blew the smoke, watching it disperse.
“Did he?” hummed Roman.
“Mm,” responded Simon, turning his head to the side, looking at Roman watch the stars above them. “Some interesting news reached my ear this evening.”
“Of course,” remarked Roman, bringing his head back to see Julie entering the Dormitorium.
Seeing the lack of response, Simon didn’t question more on it, knowing how private Roman was. If it was possible, his eyebrows would have reached his hairline after hearing from Maximus that Roman had decided to tutor the human. It was because Roman helping anyone in Veteris was the last thing that had happened until now.
“Speaking of what I heard, news reached my ears that Dante is planning to bring the elders here in the next three months. Personally, I am not looking forward to it,” commented Simon, running his hand through his ginger hair.
Hearing this, Roman took another puff, “Isn’t that early?”
“Compared to the earlier date it is, but who knows what Dante and the others have on their mind,” replied Simon. “I was hoping to not meet any of them.”
“They are going to be here someday. Now or later. And like it or not, we will be meeting them,” remarked Roman, dropping the cigarette that was almost going to burn out. He stepped on it with his boot, extinguishing it. “Things will change once they are here,” he murmured under his breath.
Back in the girl’s Dormitorium, Julie, who had returned from the main office, sat on her bed with her shoulders drooped. She stared at the wall in front of her before snapping and picking up her notebook. While moving back to lean against the wall, she noticed another letter waiting for her at the window.
She was away from her room for less than thirty minutes, and already a new letter was waiting for her?
Julie pulled out her pen and wrote back— ‘I think I am convinced that a lot of students in Veteris need to visit the counsellor’s office to check if they are alright! If not soon I will be the one visiting the counsellor!’
She added a few more exclamation marks to describe her emotions.
‘What will I do if someone figures out that I was the one who broke the rule? Why are you bullying me >.< ? I haven’t even done anything to you… You want answers, but you will use that to broadcast it to everyone >.>’
After reading what she wrote, she quickly pulled out another page to rewrite it, but this time without any exclamation mark. Who knew if he would do something more than print pages if she crossed him! Julie didn’t want to test her luck.
Folding the letter, she placed it next to her window with a sigh and went back to lying on her back on the bed.
An hour passed when Julie heard sharp knocks on her door. She wondered who it was because Melanie knocked much softly. Did someone find out? Were people here to help her in packing or throw her things out of the dorm?
Biting her lip in worry, Julie opened the door only to find Eleanor standing there with one of her friends.
Eleanor glared at her, and Julie tried to think of a way to save her when the girl said, “Didn’t you say you would love to help me?”
Suddenly relief passed through Julie’s body and she offered, “Let me bring my book and pen-”
“That won’t be needed. I have already written what I want to convey my feelings to Rome. And proofread it, so you don’t have to read what I have written,” said Eleanor with an arrogant tone.
“Okay?” Julie asked because she didn’t know what else Eleanor wanted help with. She pulled her door and closed it so that they wouldn’t take a peek inside her room.
“You see, I don’t want to place my letter with the pile of other girls’ letters as it will only end up lost and unread. I want to stand out, so I even got a red envelope,” said Eleanor with a smile, raising her hand to show it to Julie.
“Did you come here to get my approval for the colour?” asked Julie in a doubtful tone, and Eleanor’s expression turned back to a glare.
“I have a deal to offer to you,” responded Eleanor.
Warily, Julie asked, “What for?”
“I will let you off the hook if you do this errand. Me and my girls will not trouble you again,” said Eleanor, looking at her red envelope in her hand. “Place this letter on Rome’s bed in his room.”
“That is a good joke, but no thank you,” replied Julie. She turned around, ready to open the door, when Eleanor pushed her body into the door, twisting her arm behind her. Damnit! Julie cursed internally as Eleanor had caught her off guard.
“I was being nice to you, Julianne. You were the one who gave me the idea and offered your help. Don’t step back on your words now,” warned Eleanor. She whispered, “I don’t know if you know it, but I am far more capable than the damage you think I can do to you.”
“It wasn’t my idea for you to have a crush on him-ouch!” Julie’s face twisted in pain, and she tried not to move. “Doesn’t it make a better impact if you give it yourself than make me do it?”
Eleanor said, “You don’t have to show your face to him. I know Rome isn’t in his room right now, so you can use his room’s window to get in. Just keep the letter and get out from there,” she finally let go of Julie’s arm. “Simple, isn’t it? Now go.” She offered a bright smile.
When Julie left, Eleanor’s friend turned to her and asked, “Why did you ask her to deliver it?”
“Did you not hear what I just said? Also, if she gets caught, Rome is going to be so pissed that he will fuck her up. He doesn’t like anyone entering his room and this will serve her right,” replied Eleanor with a smirk.
Julie walked in the cold night, holding the red envelope in her hand. She turned around to see her Dormitorium and caught sight of the two girls standing there at the entrance watching her.
“I hope you hold on to your word,” muttered Julie under her breath while making her way towards the boy’s Dormitorium.
She wanted to get over with this so that Eleanor would stop bugging her like a fly now and then. The sooner Roman would read Eleanor’s letter, the sooner the girl would get her answer. Once she was away from the two girls’ sight, Julie wondered what Eleanor might have written in the letter. Making her specifically hand it to the senior, she couldn’t help but feel suspicious about this now.
“I apologize beforehand, but this is only to make sure you aren’t going to put me in any more trouble,” whispered Julie to no one in particular. She brought the envelope in front of her and opened it.
Funnily, she hadn’t written or delivered these many letters in her life until now, thought Julie in her mind.
‘Dear Rome, since the first time you saved me from the bullies when I joined this place, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. I have been trying to eat the same food that you eat in the lunchroom, but some of the items are always out of stock. I have already imagined how our lives might look in the future together and it looks wonderful. If you give me the chance, I would like to be your girlfriend. I love you with all my heart.’
Eleanor was bullied at the time when she had just joined? And Roman had saved her? And the bullied turned to bully?
The next page continued with Eleanor professing her love for Roman. Julie folded the letter and put it back in the red envelope. It looked like it was just a love letter and nothing more than that, she said in her mind.
She had decided to walk into the boy’s Dormitorium and then decently knock on the door so that she could hand it to Roman. But when she reached the front of the building, she noticed some of the boys sitting on the entrance stairs. Out of the lot, one of them was Mateo.
Julie, who was walking straight, took a sharp turn to her left, looking the other way. Wanting to avoid the porcupine and save her time, she walked around the building and found the narrow stairs. Climbing up, she finally came and stood in front of Roman’s room’s window.
But the height of the window was high, to just take a quick peek and throw the letter on his bed. Looking at the wall, she noticed a brick sticking out. Holding the letter between her teeth, she stepped on the brick and put both her hands on the window sill before lifting herself. Like a cat trying to claw its way in, she tried to open the window. But to her relief, the window was left unlocked.
When she heard the boys’ voices, she looked down and noticed two boys climbing up the stairs. In a panic, Julie managed through the window. She fell on the bed before rolling to fall on the floor. The voices from outside the window increased.
“Do you think we’ll get caught if we smoke in here?” asked one of the boys.
“No one comes here. We can hang out here until the time of curfew and then get back to our dorms,” replied another person and there went her exit.
Now that she was here and with Roman not in the room, it was time to place the envelope on the bed and walk through the door as if she had come to meet Conner!
Getting up from the cold floor, Julie turned to the bed and placed Eleanor’s declaration of love letter on the bed. And while doing that, she straightened the bed sheet to not leave evidence behind that someone had broken into this room. Before she could make her way towards the door, the door opened and there stood the owner of the room.
“What are you doing here?” Roman’s eyes narrowed at her.
Julie, who was frozen, her hand slowly moved to make the bed sheet proper, and she said, “Tidying things…” And she stood straight.
When Roman had opened his dorm door, he hadn’t expected to find Julie leaning over his bed with both her hands on it. As confusing as the situation was, his eyes were quick to fall on her letter that he had picked up earlier. He hadn’t folded and put it away in his closet, which was now lying on the desk, which wasn’t far away from her.
Did she find out it was him and come here to take a look? Asked Roman in his mind.
On the other hand, Julie was worried if he would get the wrong idea of why she was here. It was better to come clean, she said in her mind. She turned her head to point at Eleanor’s letter, but Roman swiftly closed the door and caught her wrist.
Soon enough, Julie’s back hit the wall, and Roman hovered right in front of her, hiding the letter with her handwriting from her sight if she hadn’t seen it yet. When he had pulled her towards him, her glasses had slipped from her face. He caught it in one of his hands, while the other hadn’t let go of her wrist.
A small gasp had escaped from her lips because of the sudden movements, and she stared at Roman, who stood close even though the room had more than enough space.
“Did you start to miss our study session, that you decided to come here?” Roman asked her dauntingly, trying to find what she was doing in his room.
“I came to deliver a letter to you,” replied Julie, while hearing her heart drumming in her ears. Roman’s jaw clenched. It seemed like she had found out the secret. But then he heard, “Eleanor wanted to pass her letter to you.”
Roman stared at Julie, closely watching her expression. She looked at him right in the eye, her brown eyes staring back with a little amount of anxiousness in them.
“Since when did you start a part-time job of delivering things around the Dormitorium?” questioned Roman, his intense gaze not leaving her.
Julie wondered if he was angry at her because he hadn’t stepped back, and the unnerving interrogation had only started. She parted her lips to answer,
“It is because of you. Someone from her group saw us walking together when we were on our way to the library and they cornered me. Eleanor keeps going on and on how I should stay away from you when there’s nothing going on, so she finally decided to confess her feelings through-”
“She said that?” asked Roman, his head tilting to the side.
“What?” asked Julie, who had lost the train of her thoughts.
“I didn’t peg you to be someone who could be easily threatened by someone,” responded Roman, and his thumb unconsciously moved against her wrist. When he noticed her eyes widen, he suddenly let go of her hand as if he had touched a burning iron. Stepping away from her, he turned around to walk towards the desk, picked up the letter on the desk, and slipped it into his pocket.
Julie cleared her throat and said, “I am not, but when you have already experienced what the person can do, it is hard to ignore. The last time she invited me to the forest, I was chased by her and her friends with baseball bats and I missed being beaten by it,” she said in one breath, watching his back. “Thank you for teaching me today b-”
“It is getting late,” Roman interrupted her, a serious look on his face, “Get back to your dorm unless you want to break two rules in one night. And don’t step into my room again.”
Roman looked at the window and saw it was left open, and his eyes shifted to Julie. She looked taken aback and sheepishly asked, “You are not angry at me?”
“Do you want me to be?” He raised his eyebrow, and she shook her head. It wasn’t like he hadn’t entered a room to leave in the past, and he internally sighed. Walking to his bed, he picked up the red envelope and opened it to read.
Julie was relieved that Roman wasn’t breathing fire on her. Seeing him read the letter, she was happy that she had finished the job for what she had come here for. Looking at the watch, she realized there was less than half an hour before she would break the rule, as Roman said.
But she could still hear the voices of the boys from one floor below, who were sitting on the outside stairs she had come from. She wasn’t sure about the main entrance of the boy’s Dormitorium. She cleared her throat to gain Roman’s attention, receiving a hard stare.
“Don’t tell me you have planned to sleep here tonight,” deadpanned Roman on seeing Julie not move from her spot.
Julie awkwardly smiled and said, “Can I make a request? Can you walk with me until the entrance of this Dormitorium? Please,” she added.
Roman didn’t reply to her, but when he made his way to the door opening it, Julie mistook it to be him telling her to get out of his hair. Well, it was worth a shot, she thought in her mind and dragged her feet outside the room.
But when she stepped outside, he stepped out too, closing the door behind him with a click sound.
“Thank you,” Julie thanked him before he started to walk, and she was quick to keep up with him.
On the way, she noticed some of the boys out in the corridor and the hall. Seeing her walk next to Roman, they looked at her, wondering if she was the new snack and if her blood tasted good.
“Eyes forward,” she heard Roman say to her so that she wouldn’t crash into him. But when they reached the entrance of the boy’s Dormitorium, he didn’t stop walking, and to Julie, it seemed like he had mistaken her words.
“I will be fine from here,” Julie let him know.
“I have some work nearby,” responded Roman, making sure that she wouldn’t get into any more trouble.
While walking, Julie noticed the campus looked deserted as most students had returned to their respective dorms. Reaching the girl’s Dormitorium and in the hall, Roman jerked his head towards the corridor, and Julie walked away from there, making her way to her dorm and getting inside.
Once Julie had disappeared behind her dorm door, Roman, who stood alone, raised his hand to stare at it before dropping it to his side.
Roman’s eyes narrowed, remembering something Julie had said earlier in his room, and he looked at the stairs. He didn’t like the thought of someone trying to bully her, and he climbed the stairs.